Friday, April 21, 2006

Report Cards

Last night I got home about 9 p.m. and hadn't eaten dinner. Marisol and Daya were on the step next door and said hi. I said hi and went in the house. I had barely washed my hands and was about to eat a piece of gefilte fish straight out of the jar from starvation when the doorbell rang.

I figured it was one of the Tonys looking for a thinly disguised handout, and I was mad. The bell rang again. "Hold on!" I shouted grumpily.

But when I got to the door, it was Marisol, holding a styrofoam plate with two tacos on it. "Oh wow, Marisol, that's so nice!" I said. "I'm so hungry--I haven't had dinner yet. Thank you!"

I think I must have scared her with the initial shout, because she just said good night and vanished immediately. I was so happy not to have to fix dinner I broke into Alberto's brand-new six-pack of ale and took a beer out with me on the step for dinner. (Alberto has apparently swigged most of a large bottle of rum left over from my Christmas party, so I feel pretty justified in swiping a brewski.)

Anyway, they waved from next door but went in to bed pretty soon afterwards. Meanwhile, Dawn and Joey came by while I was still eating. We started talking about report cards and Joey went home to get their and their big brother Julian's.

Let's start with the good news. Dawn's GPA looks like it's about a 2.5 or a little higher. She only has a D in algebra, and she had a C in something else, and the rest were Bs with one A. However, given that the Consortium on Chicago School Research released a report yesterday that says a kid in CPS needs a 3.0 to have any real hope of going to college and making it through, we've got work to do.

The bad news is Julian is not looking like a candidate to beat the stats. Only about 3 percent of the African American and Latino boys who start high school in CPS ever make it to their college diplomas. And an older Consortium study indicates kids who flunk more than two core courses in their first semester are very likely to drop out of high school. Julian had three core Fs and five Fs overall. I knew it would be bad but I didn't think it would be that bad.

Julian and I hung out watering the lawn at 10:30 last night, talking about his grades and what he might be able to do to make up at least some of the work before summer, among other things. He's a nice boy, not sullen or hard, and not stupid-he got a C in algebra without trying-but getting him to do schoolwork is like pulling teeth. He says the after school study period they've forced him to attend is helping him make up some of his first semester work.

Meanwhile, Joey's grades have slipped, too. I don't have the time and energy to do the work all three of them need. We have to get Joey into a more responsive school and that is 18 months away at the soonest.

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